Breck’s green tomatoes, potato salad, bread pudding heavenly

An outdoor seating area outlined by a black wrought iron fence beckons patrons to see what’s inside Breck’s Bistro.

The off-LSU campus eatery sets a contemporary tone with black and white decor, an exposed-beam ceiling and filament pendant lights casting a soft, golden glow. Old glass and wood windows hang from the center of the dining area, separating the main dining from the bar seating on the other side. We spent some time admiring the floor-to-ceiling black and white photo dominating the eastern wall. Courtesy of the California History Room of the Monterey Public Library in California, the circa 1930s image shows a crowded pier in Monterey’s historic Chinese fishing village. The fisherman are shoulder-to-shoulder, most holding simple cane poles. Another wall likewise piqued our curiosity with its large periodic table of the elements, all in French.

Breck’s takes one of our favorites, fried green tomatoes, to another level with its fried green Napoleon ($8.59). Four tomato slices, dipped in a well-seasoned batter were pan seared to a thin, crunchy exterior and juicy interior. The tomatoes were layered on the plate with small chunks of spicy tasso and six sauteed shrimp. A luscious cream sauce, fresh parsley and shredded provolone cheese finished off this most flavorful appetizer.

A sandwich called pigs & figs ($9.59) might not sound appealing to everyone, but the mention of figs always brings back childhood memories of plucking the fruit from our backyard trees and those of a cousin. Between two layers of toasted sourdough bread were thin slices of prosciutto lathered with fig preserves, sprinkled with feta cheese crumbs and topped with spinach leaves and sliced Roma tomatoes. The alternating bursts of savory and sweet in this delightful sandwich were a combination of components I wouldn’t have thought of, but glad the chefs at Breck’s did. With a choice of sides available, I picked the potato salad, always eager to sample yet another version of this classic. Breck’s take did not disappoint with its creamy melding of skin-on potato chunks, mayo and a spicy brown mustard. Quite good.

The Adriatic shrimp pasta ($12.49) was an attractive dish of a dozen medium shrimp in marinara over bowtie pasta (other pastas also available) dotted with colorful bell pepper, olives and pepperoncini, along with garlic and onion. Feta cheese and fresh basil garnished the bowl. A crusty baguette accompanied the pasta.

Our desserts that evening, the lost bread pudding ($5.95) and molten chocolate cake ($6.95) were sinfully wonderful. The moist pudding featured a swirl of cinnamon, a sweet rum sauce and sprinkling of craisins. Moist chocolate cake was centered with a cocoon of warm chocolate sauce, drizzled in chocolate sauce and topped with whipped cream — need I say more?

Returning the next week for a take-out order, we tried the wholelotta muffuletta ($10.59), pairing it with a side of steamed veggies. The seeded Italian bread was correct, and the olive mix tasty (although we would have liked more of it), but the term “wholelotta” didn’t seem to work here. We would have expected a larger sandwich for the price.

The crabby quattro chips ($9.99) also called our name. The pile of crispy, made in-house kettle chips were held together with a variety of melted cheeses, including bleu cheese, along with seasoned crab meat. If you’re not a big blue cheese fan, steer clear of this one. That cheese’s strong flavor overpowered everything else for us.

Breck’s prides itself on using the freshest of ingredients and that was evident with the parmesan chicken bowl ($11.59). A bed of fresh romaine lettuce held strips of crispy chicken breast, Roma tomatoes, grated Provolone and Parmesan cheeses. Basil ribbons garnished this large salad, with the homemade-tasting creamy ranch dressing a very pleasing topping.

Monica, the server when we dined in, was very friendly, giving us time to make our selections in a relaxing amount of time, while being prompt with drink refills and other requests. Emily, who handled the take-out order was equally nice, suggesting I might want to take advantage of the daily margarita special while waiting for my next to-go order.